The Mars Room A novel by Rachel Kushner.
The novel is 336 pages long, 32 chapters, and broken down into 5 sections or parts of the book. In this novel, you will have multiple viewpoints from different characters. You not only get to hear the story viewpoint from the main character but the viewpoints of multiple characters.
It was an easy read overall. I read a majority of the book in two days but I’m sure with proper time and dedication the book can be read much quicker. There were parts that seemed unfinished but not in a cliffhanger way. As if the author just got bored with that character or that part of the storyline. At least one character for me, it was Gordon Hauser. For the middle half of the book, he was present and important and then all of a sudden he was just gone and the author lets go of his presence in the book. He wasn’t a huge character overall honestly. But the way he just disappeared from the storyline and the way she cut him out quickly with minimal detail left a lot of questions for me. A few more details would have caused me not to even notice his short time in the story and his quick disappearance. G.Hauser was brought up, I believe, one last time by the main character before he disappeared for good. That is one part of the novel I wasn’t in love with.
The novel is about Romy Hall who is at the beginning of two consecutive life sentences at a Women’s Correctional Facility. The following quote leads you to believe the book is full of excitement. It’s not in my opinion, there are a few spots in the book where you see prison violence where different opinions clash between inmates. There are parts where each Character briefly explains how they got to prison. Or Romy Hall, the main character, explains why certain characters are in prison. I did not get very excited through this book though.
“Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.”
Most of the novel I was waiting for something to actually happen. You know, that big scene that sets up most of the story. I understand not all stories work that way. Some stories wait until the ending for the big scene. This was, in fact, one of those stories. The big scene being at the end made the novel a bit hard to get excited about throughout the story. I felt like there were too many details surrounding the characters and their backstory. And most of the characters with their backstories I felt had no direct impact on the big scene. I didn’t see those stories being important to the main character’s storyline. I would say all the extra characters, backstories, and current voiceovers made the big scene seem, less dramatic than it could have been.
The whole novel focused on people, their backstories, and where/who they were today. The novel spent so little time on Gordon’s leaving and it felt like even less time on the big scene. Those two parts of the book seemed to be thrown in last minute. As if someone said “What happened to Gordon?” and the author had to add in last minute a brief detail about why he wouldn’t be around in future chapters. When the time finally came to discuss he would be gone, it was so brief and short that you didn’t feel any sense of inclusion on the subject. As if the readers weren’t allowed to know any more details now that he was gone from the main points. I understand that authors will let you make up your own decisions about certain characters or scenes. Did he leave voluntarily because he was getting too close to the ladies again? Did he feel working in a women’s prison wasn’t right for him?
The story was more about people and their journey through life and some of the character’s brief stay in prison. I think the book was decent, honestly. I wasn’t stoked about the ending. In my opinion, there could have been more details or maybe it could have been a longer chapter. I was not overly thrilled when I finished reading the book. I’m not sure I would recommend the book to just anyone. If someone is looking to read a story, this is definitely a story. If someone is looking for excitement, I would suggest they look elsewhere than this book.
*Disclosure, there is talk about stripping, violence, nudity, and violent crimes. If you are a minor, please consult your parents or guardian before reading this book. It may not be suitable for all audiences.